Apoptosis-inducing activity of hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones and polymethoxyflavones from orange peel in human breast cancer cells

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Dec;51(12):1478-84. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700136.


Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis L.) peel is a rich resource of flavonoids, especially polymethoxyflavones (PMFs). Citrus flavonoids exert a broad spectrum of biological activity, including antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in cancer cells. We have recently shown that individual PMFs from orange peel induce Ca(2+)-mediated apoptosis in human breast cancer cells and that hydroxylation of PMFs is critical for enhancing their proapoptotic activity. Here, we report that the fraction of orange peel extract containing a mixture of non-hydroxylated PMFs (75.1%) and hydroxylated PMFs (5.44%) and the fraction containing only hydroxylated PMFs (97.2%) induce apoptosis in those cells as well. Treatment of MCF-7 breast cancer cells with these fractions inhibited growth and induced apoptosis associated with an increase in the basal level of intracellular Ca(2+). Effective concentrations of the hydroxylated PMFs fraction in inhibiting growth, inducing apoptosis, and increasing intracellular Ca(2+) were lower than those of the non-hydroxylated PMFs fraction. Our results strongly imply that bioactive PMFs from orange peel exert proapoptotic activity in human breast cancer cells, which depends on their ability to induce an increase in intracellular Ca(2+ )and thus, activate Ca(2+)-dependent apoptotic proteases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Calcium / analysis
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Citrus sinensis / chemistry*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Flavones / administration & dosage
  • Flavones / isolation & purification
  • Flavones / pharmacology*
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Flavones
  • Calcium